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An Elder Abuse Suspicion Index

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Have you noticed how many aspects of our lives are governed by that pervasive, statistical concept known as an ‘Index’.

Just a smattering of some of the more conventional ones include:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • A Book Index
  • Stock Market Index
  • Futures Index
  • Consumer Sentiment Index

One exotic one I came across recently was the “Masculinity Index”. It purports to assess, for what it is worth, the extent to which traditional masculine values, such as competitiveness and the acquisition of wealth, are valued over what are regarded as feminine values, such as building relationships and the quality of life.

Now the ubiquitous ‘Index’ has infiltrated the world of Elder Abuse – the “Elder Abuse Suspicion Index”.

With funding support from the NSW Government, a “Toolbox for Legal Practitioners” for “identifying and acting on elder abuse” has been developed by a team from the University of Technology Sydney and Newcastle University. The Elder Abuse Suspicion Index, forms part of that Toolbox.

The suspicion index consists of 6 questions as follows:

“In the last 12 months:

  1. Have you relied on people for any of the following: bathing, dressing, shopping, banking or meals?
  2. Has anyone prevented you from getting food, clothes, medication, glasses, hearing aids or medical care, or from being with people you wanted to be with?
  3. Have you been upset because someone talked to you in a way that made you feel ashamed or threatened?
  4. Has anyone tried to force you to sign papers or to use your money against your will?
  5. Has anyone made you afraid, touched you in ways that you did not want, or hurt you physically.
  6. [For assessment by the practitioner]: Elder abuse may be associated with findings such as: poor eye contact, withdrawn nature, malnourishment, hygiene issues, cuts, bruises, inappropriate clothing, or medication compliance issues.

Did you notice any of these today or in the last 12 months?”

While the Toolbox is targeted at lawyers , it is equally useful for any other professional advisers, including accountants, financial advisers or stockbrokers. It may be just as helpful for health professionals at the front line of health care, all of whom may have to confront the vexed issue and then, what to do about their suspicions – a subject for another time.

P.S.  An online version of the Toolbox is available here: Elder Abuse Suspicion Index .  You can also view the Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit website here.

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